Of Sunscreen, Hard Water, and Lemon Juice

    Is it just me or does anyone else have problems with sunscreen and their hard water? Oh that’s right, most normal people have water softeners. I guess that would be those appliances that sit in your basement room and every now and again you go down and dump a bag of salt in them. I know this because I don’t have one of those appliances.

          If you live rural and you get your water from a well or spring, chances are you run it through a softener. Otherwise your water will have heavy amounts of iron or smelly sulfur in it, which turns your whites dull gray and rusts up your bathtub. If you live in the burbs or in the city and are on a public water system, then you need not worry about water softeners or too many minerals in your water, your water is probably run through some kind of an elaborate purification system of which you pay dearly for.  (You do need to worry, however, about fluoride, but that’s a different story altogether.) And if you live in the mountains of New Mexico, like I used to, you likely have a well and the water is so fantastic that you would never, ever think even once about the need for a water softener.

          Which brings me to the subject of sun block lotion.

I have worn sun block for many years, slathering it on throughout the day with not a care in the world if I get a little on my clothing. It washes right out and leaves not a trace. In all the years I have worn sunscreen lotions and all the different brands I have used, not a one has given me a problem with staining my clothes, UNTIL I MOVED BACK TO OHIO! Even before we moved back to this place, we would come and visit, but I would do my laundry at my in-laws, where they run softened water. Or I would do my washing at my own mother’s home, and she lives in the city. It wasn’t until we moved here and bought a house in rural northeastern Ohio that I discovered a chemical reaction takes place between iron in my unsoftened well-water and sunscreen. And this is sunscreen of any brand, with all different combinations of ingredients. Anywhere it happens to get on my clothes, after washing it will appear as a dingy orange stain and I won’t even know any sunscreen touched the garment until I pull it out of my washer.

          My husband’s reaction is basically, “Well, stop putting all that crap on your skin!” He happens to like the taste of the hard water. And he rarely wears sun block.

          My relatives only look at me funny when I complain about this.

          I mentioned this problem to a dermatologist once. He said he’d never heard of it.

          I am not crazy.

          Okay, I am at least not crazy over that.

          No, by golly, I AM crazy over that. Do you know that I even get orange deposits on my arms sometimes? It is iron that has stuck to my skin and turned it orange due to my wearing sun screen. I can take a cosmetic pad soaked with alcohol and rub it up and down my arm and the pad turns orange. Weird.

          I am pretty sure I am not from another planet.

          I haven’t been eating too many carrots either.

          I have to take a special load of my personal clothes to a laundry mat for crying out loud so that they won’t stain when I wash them.

          But when the terrible thing does happen and my clothes do get a stain, I have found that soaking the garment in lemon juice will take it out. Just soak it for a while and the orange will lift right out. Let it dry without rinsing. Wear and cross your fingers the stain doesn’t re-appear, because sometimes it does. Even weirder.

         I fear I am only one out of about a million-million-billion people that this has happened to. That’s ten to the power of twenty-one, folks. I mean, like, 1021!

          On the bright side, I do like it when I have a constant reason to shop for new duds!

          So, please! Has this happened to anyone else out there? Or, am I really nuts? If you answered “Yes” to both questions, talk to your doctor right away.